Something's Up at Sears Crosstown

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Friends and neighbors in Midtown tell me something may be getting ready to happen at the long-closed Sears Crosstown building, the massive empty relic at Cleveland and North Parkway.

I'm hearing that Yates Construction may have the job, and that the working drawings include partial demolition, an arts center, apartments, food courts, a boutique hotel, health care offices, and half a dozen major investors in lieu of one anchor tenant. The ballpark price I heard was well over $100 million, but numbers are pretty meaningless at this point. Sears Crosstown has been vacant for 29 years. It is both impossibly large — ten stories of "tail" west of a 17-story tower — and badly blighted, with broken windows on the outside and god-knows-what-all on the inside.

Flyer readers may know the property as the site of the 2011 "Best Of" party held on the roof of the parking garage. Crosstown Arts put on a nice light show on the main building and is one of the proponents of renovation.

Disclosure: I live in the Evergreen Historic District a few blocks from Sears. As a neighbor, I would like to see something good happen on Cleveland, our neighborhood's main commercial street along with Poplar Avenue. I have no idea what it would cost, but demolition seems like an idea worth considering given that no one would construct such a building from scratch these days. Cleveland and Poplar have some good ethnic restaurants and markets, a few auto-parts stores, other small businesses, a flea market, and a Jehovah's Witnesses assembly hall. The Evergreen District includes several houses that are nearly 100 years old and some new ones built primarily in the 1990s in the aborted Interstate 40 corridor. The corridor west of Cleveland is empty.

It sounds like an ambitious project and I will post more as I learn more about it. If this is a real deal, that makes four Midtown deals by my count, counting Sears, Overton Park Conservancy, Overton Square revival by Loeb Properties, and the Kroc Center at the fairgrounds.

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